Herring pushes back against Mississippi efforts to overturn Roe

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Attorney General Mark R. Herring has joined a coalition of 24 state attorneys general urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold its precedents protecting a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

In an amicus brief filed with the Court, Herring and his colleagues argue that Mississippi’s abortion ban is unconstitutional and should remain unconstitutional. In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that the Constitution does not permit States to prohibit a woman from deciding before viability whether to carry her pregnancy to term.

That ruling was affirmed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 and reaffirmed in the following decades.

In this week’s brief, the coalition argues that Mississippi’s ban is unconstitutional under settled law, and that the Court should continue to uphold this well-established precedent.

In May, Herring committed to defending abortion access following the U.S. Supreme Court’s potentially devastating decision to take up this lawsuit challenging Mississippi’s restrictive abortion ban that has the potential to overturn landmark cases Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood.

“Mississippi’s abortion ban is no more than a blatant attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade, which has protected a person’s constitutional right to an abortion for decades,” Herring said. “Given the conservative makeup of the current Supreme Court, their decision to take up this case is incredibly concerning and has the potential to upend landmark abortion rights cases. I remain committed to fighting back against this wave of restrictive abortion bans that are being passed across this country and I am proud to stand with my colleagues in filing this amicus defending Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion.”

In 2018, the governor of Mississippi signed into law what was then the strictest abortion ban in the nation. The law prohibits abortion at 15 weeks, with few exceptions, even in cases of rape or incest. A federal district court judge struck down the law stating that Mississippi “chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional…to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling.

Mississippi’s attempt to undo decades of Supreme Court precedent comes amidst years of attempts by other states to strip Americans of their right to decide what is best for their bodies and futures. This year alone, 10 states have enacted restrictive bans on abortions. In total, 16 states have now enacted pre-viability abortion bans.

In 2019, Herring filed an amicus brief in this lawsuit in support of Mississippi’s last abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, arguing that Mississippi’s law enacted a near-total ban on abortions. In the amicus, Herring asserted that the law restricts women from exercising their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy under Roe v. Wade. He further argued that contrary to Mississippi’s claims, its near-total ban would result in worse maternal health outcomes.

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